Max Levchin, one of the co-founders of Paypal, has announced that he has raised an impressive $425 million of funding for his newest venture, Affirm, the mission of which is to replace credit cards with micro-loans at a point of sale.
The startup’s service, which is called “Buy With Affirm,” allows shoppers to pay forgoods online in a series of monthly installments, in lieu of one lump-sum payment that is often beyond the customer’s means. By submitting your name, cell phone number, birthday and the last four digits of your social security number, you can apply for membership, at which point Affirm’s algorithm considers a number of variables – like the regularity with which you receive paychecks and how liquid your finances are – to determine how much risk is associated with your finances and whether you are a suitable candidate to receive Affirm’s micro-loans.
Describing the motivation behind his new company’s mission to Fortune Magazine, Levchin pointed to the fact that many Millennials not only feel no sense of loyalty towards their banks, but actually possess a marked distrust of large financial institutions. This was shown in a research study conducted by Viacom Media, in which 10,000 Millennials were polled about Big Finance and agreed across the board that all four of the biggest banking brands were on their list of the ten least-loved brands in the USA. Levchin’s solution, then, is to provide these Millennials with a banking alternative that offers increased transparency, in addition to assistance paying off larger amounts of money.
Since Affirm’s launch, the number of merchants they’re partnered with has increased steadily. Last year, they were only used by 100 merchants, and this year, they are used by 700. According to Levchin, users are also hopping on the Affirm bandwagon in impressive numbers, and many are coming back again after their first use.
Clearly, some heavy-hitting investors agree with Levchin that when it comes to Millennial banking and credit, something’s got to give. Founders Fund, Affirm’s newest investor, just contributed $100 million to the company’s financial backing, and they have already received investments from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Spark Capital, Khosla Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Jeffries.
It will be interesting to see if Levchin is successful in doing for credit what PayPal did for online payments; only time will tell.